San Francisco Camera Rental Resources

By Taylor Quintanar

| Camera, Equipment, San Francisco, CA


At our Blare Media San Francisco Production Company, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with high-quality and affordable video productions that are tailored to their unique needs. We use our creative and technical expertise to take a vision from concept to reality and deliver a complete product that makes our clients proud. On the other hand, for our clients that are already independent filmmakers, we offer camera equipment rentals that include a Director of Photography or extra crew members, as well as pre-production consultation and post production assistance. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are a number of reputable equipment rental options for any budget and any level of filmmaking experience. If you are ready to venture on your own, these camera rental resources will be your guide to getting started. From budget-friendly to specialty equipment to guidance on how to use the equipment, you will find something for everyone in this list of San Francisco photography and video camera rentals. 

San Francisco Camera Rental Resources

Fireside Camera

2117 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123

For your photographic needs, consider Fireside Camera, San Francisco’s oldest independently owned camera store since 1954. At Fireside Camera, you will find a simple selection of mirrorless and digital cameras, lenses, and teleconverters with rental periods of 3 days or a week. Mirrorless cameras are small in size and great for live exposure simulation and completely silent shooting. Call or walk-in to speak with their friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff or view their rental inventory online. If you are interested in learning more photography themes, techniques, and styles, join Fireside Camera for their photography club meet-up every other Monday at 11:30am at the Maritime Museum. 

City College of San Francisco Cinema Department

For the absolute beginner videographer, perhaps the simplest place to start is City College of San Francisco. The Cinema Department at CCSF loans state-of-the-art cameras, as well as sound, lighting, and grip equipment to students who are presently enrolled in production courses. Students in beginner level courses can borrow Canon DSLR cameras and Zoom recorders (to capture professional sound outside of a studio setting). Meanwhile, intermediate and advanced students have access to Black Magic Pocket Cinema 4K and 6K cameras, prime lenses, gimbals, soft LED panels, hard lights, grip equipment, and dollies. Visit CCSF’s website to browse the course catalog and consider enrolling in some of its Broadcast Electronic Media Arts courses, like Basic Film Production, Narrative Filmmaking, Cinematography & Lighting, Documentary Filmmaking, and Special Effects.

Express Media

2225 Palou Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124

If you have been an independent filmmaker in San Francisco for a while, you have probably heard of Express Media, the city’s largest video production equipment rental company since 1989. Express Media is your go-to for state-of-the-art broadcasting and industrial video equipment. Their inventory includes ultra high-definition (UHD, sometimes referred to as 4K) and high-definition camera equipment from Sony, Ikegami, Hitachi, RED, Panasonic, and Canon, and accessories for in studio production, as well as electronic field production (EFP is an industry term referring to a video production which takes place in the field, outside of a studio). You can rent camera packages or camera equipment a la carte, and Express Media offers a pricing match promise to meet or beat any advertised prices on similar equipment. Consider checking their inventory for your next project for the price matching alone. 

Element Camera

5835 Doyle St STE A, Emeryville, CA 94608

Just on the other side of the Bay Bridge you will find Element Camera in Emeryville, specializing in vintage anamorphic and spherical glass lenses, including Kowa, Lomo, Cooke, Zeiss, Schneider, B&L Baltars. Additionally, you can choose from an assortment of Arri Alexa Mini, Arri Classic, and Red Helium cameras. If you have never used a vintage lens before, check out Element Camera’s social media to see samples of the incredible results you can obtain using their vintage lens setups. Vintage lenses filter light differently than modern lenses and consequently allow more light and light anomalies in through the lens. These light anomalies can result in large colorful sun flares or interesting haze and bokeh or blur qualities to your images. Consider visiting Element Camera and trying vintage lenses for a completely different look to your shots.

Elewa Camera 

Another find on the other side of the Bay Bridge is Elewa Camera based in Alameda. At Elewa Camera you will find all the usual leading-edge cameras, lenses and production equipment, in packages or a la carte. Most impressively, at Elewa Camera you will find complete 360 degree virtual reality camera rentals and VR rental packages. For example, a popular rental is the Nokia OZO, which is the first VR camera to capture 360 degree spherical video and surround sound. This camera features eight 2K by 2K sensors, a 195 degree field-of-view lens, and eight microphones, and will allow you to create a seamless virtual reality experience. Visit their website to begin the rental process and call or email for any questions. 


1664 Industrial Rd, San Carlos, CA 94070

If you want the convenience of browsing online and having rental equipment delivered to your door, but also want to support a San Francisco Bay Area business, look to BorrowLenses. BorrowLenses is a full-service photo and video equipment rental store that ships to all 50 states, and offers free shipping on rentals over $149. This hugely successful brand started in 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Area by two best friends Mark Gurevich and Max Shevyakov who were on a mission to make renting gear affordable and easy. You will find a comprehensive inventory of equipment, and the entire rental process is done completely online through their website. However, if you want the in-person experience or if you need guidance on what rentals to choose, you can stop by the headquarters in San Carlos. BorrowLenses is dedicated to hiring passionate local photographers and videographers to provide excellent customer service and help you with your rental needs.

Rent Directly from Other Artists

If you are looking for specialty equipment or having trouble finding exactly what you’re looking for, consider browsing sites like ShareGrid and to find San Francisco locals who have their equipment for rent. Don’t forget to befriend San Francisco filmmakers and ask them for their favorite equipment and rental resources.